Tata group, Panasonic join hands for water purification system: report

The Tata group has joined hands with Japanese electronics giant Panasonic to develop a compact water purification system suitable for Indian conditions, to tap into a fast-growing market, media reports said.

Panasonic is reported to have already developed a prototype device that can detoxify harmful substances in groundwater, making it potentially safe to drink, Japanese business daily Nikkei said.

The system, which is compact enough be carried in a small truck, has been designed to serve small rural communities in India where water-supply infrastructure is underdeveloped, the report said.

The prototype is capable of producing three tonnes of potable water per day - enough to supply 20 households of average size families.

Tata group already markets a domestic low-cost water purifier, Tata Swach. The water purifier, developed by group company Tata Chemicals, was designed as a low-cost purifier for Indian low-income groups, who lack access to safe drinking water. Swach can purify water at the rate of about 3 to 4 litres an hour.

Tata will work with Panasonic to lower the cost of the new device to less than 100 ($0.95) per tonne of water, Nikkei said.

Tata will help Panasonic re-work design and procure materials locally, the report added.

The two partners hope to commercialise the system by March 2018, Nikkei said.

The potable water businesses in Asia and Oceania is projected to reach $90 billion in 2020, tripling in a decade and topping Europe as the largest regional market, the daily said citing a private think-tank.

Nearly 80 per cent of the demand will be related to water supply and sewage treatment as rapid population growth and industrialisation in India, China and other emerging economies are causing severe shortages of drinking water in the region, the report said.

At present, Eureka Forbes, Kent RO, Electrolux and Whirlpool have a major share of the Indian water purifier market.

European and US companies like Veolia Environment, Suez Environment and General Electric are the current leaders in the business of building and managing water purification plants. Japanese companies are working to strengthen their presence in Asia by capitalising on unique competitive technologies in water purification, Nikkei said.

Japanese water treatment firm Metawater has been entrusted with the task of updating facilities for Cambodia's Phnom Penh Water Supply Authority while Japanese shipbuilder Hitachi Zosen is developing low-cost sewage treatment systems for municipalities in China, using a technology that breaks down nitrogen with microbes, Nikkei said.